Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Notes from Isolation: Installment 2

We are well into this thing of isolating and social distancing now.

I'm into the routine of working remotely and have incorporated video chatting into some of my meetings. That means my colleagues get to see the inside of my closet, which is where I office.

Wife suggested moving the video chat location somewhere else, that perhaps she's not ready to be that intimate with my coworkers. Point taken.

We are chatting that way (Face Time) with the family too, and it helps to see our grands. The two little guys don't stay still long enough for a long conversation, but just to see them run around and act like the two-year-olds they are warms our hearts.

And our little angel, our granddaughter, almost five months old? Don't get me started.

Yesterday was perhaps the first day I never left the house and I never even went outside. It rained all day so we missed our walks, and Wife brought in the paper for me.

I must do better than that. I went to bed last night with a little heaviness in my heart, and I think that's part of it. Fresh air does the body good and I have to make sure I'm getting plenty.

I've never denied I'm an introvert, but I miss people. I miss nuzzling into the necks of my grandsons and giving my sweet daughter and daughter-in-law hugs. I miss cooing at my granddaughter. I miss my boys hitting me on the shoulder.

I miss seeing my friends and my work colleagues.

And I'll never again take for granted the privilege of those relationships.


One of our pastors is texting us daily devotionals apropos to the season in which we are living. Every one ends challenging us to find something we're thankful for. That's a good exercise and I have plenty.


I'm not going to get into the politics of all of this here, but I am skeptical of the country being "back open" by Easter, as President Trump said yesterday.

What an opportunity this was for him to be presidential and to be the kind of leader we need. I'm no psychologist, but I think there is something way down inside of him that simply can't help lashing out at anyone who dares to question him.

Yes, those reporters in the briefing room ask some silly questions. But all he has to do is give a brief answer and move on. He doesn't have to make personal attacks.

But there I go. I said I wasn't going to go political on you.


It's the start of the day and I need to think of what I'm thankful for. I'm thankful to have Wife to live through this with me, and I'm thankful we keep each other balanced. She'll talk me off the ledge, then I'll talk her off. Blessedly, we have not yet found ourselves on that ledge together.

But if we do, we know the one to talk us both down.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Notes from Isolation: Installment 1

Recent observations as Wife and I have tried to follow the instructions for "social distancing," a phrase I sincerely hope I will never again hear in my life when this is over:

-- I'm working remotely, officially beginning this past Tuesday, March 17, but which began for me last Friday, March 13. I have worked from home part of each week for the past 15 years, but never on a consistent day-to-day basis, nor when most of my colleagues are doing so. We have a regular morning call each morning at 9 to check in with each other and hear the latest from the company leadership. Most of you know I work for a bank, and while the front-line customer facing folks need to be on-site, many of the back-office functions can be done remotely. It presents challenges at times, but it can be done.

-- Older Son, DIL and their son were here over the weekend, in from Atlanta. When they got word our grandson's daycare would be closed, they decided he and his mom would stay here this week so she could work remotely and have childcare (us and her parents, who live nearby). So we've had the lovely distraction of having one of our two-year-old grandsons here this week. They've alternated days where he's here during the day and she works at her parents' house, and the reverse of that. We will miss them when they go back to Atlanta Friday.

-- Wife and I have quickly seen we need to limit our daytime news consumption. Since I'm working, it's not that difficult for me, but she was finding herself drawn to non-stop news. I am NOT an anti-media person and frankly, I think most of them are doing the best they can to report what is happening. And as a consumer of news, we need to be smart. If we watch Fox News, they are going to tell us what a great job Trump is doing with this and they're going to underplay the effects of COVID-19. If we watch CNN or CNBC, we can expect, as soon as Trump has had a press briefing, for the folks on those stations to immediately tell us how what he just said contradicts everything else he has said and how his administration is leading us off a cliff. So we have established a routine of watching our local evening news, then the national news on NBC, and leaving it at that. We might read the occasional news alert that comes on our phones, but we are rationing our news consumption and staying away from the aforementioned 24-hour news stations. We have decided it's not healthy. Yes we stay informed, but we are limiting our news intake.

-- Our church held live streaming services this past Sunday and it worked well. They already have the technology in place to do it, since they already do it each week. But like working from home, we're not accustomed to everyone attending church that way. During the time we greet each other, we sent text messages. Wife and I lead a small group in our church and we're sending out emails every few days to stay in touch and let folks hit "reply all" to tell us how they are and any prayer requests they might have.

-- We're trying to walk a lot, even though we've had tons of rain (which doesn't help to lift our spirits). Some neighbors who have a young family stopped us a couple of nights ago and inquired as to our wellbeing and asked if we need anything. Translation: "We think you are old." That's 100 percent OK, and I'm glad we're looking out for each other.

More later.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

It’s here

Well, the first case of corona virus in Tennessee is right here in the county where I live. RIGHT. HERE.

Apparently the guy who has it traveled domestically in the last week. He has self-isolated.

In an abundance of caution, our schools are closed Friday and Monday during which time “deep cleaning” will take place. That’s probably sensible.

Wife and I are trying to be sensible too. We’re taking the precautions like washing our hands often.

If we were younger, we wouldn’t be overly concerned. I don’t know that we’re considered “elderly,” which seem to be the ones hardest hit and about which there is the most concern. But we’re not spring chickens, that’s for sure.

We’re supposed to board a plane to Tampa, Florida a week from Saturday and we’re trying to decide if we should do that or not. I don’t want to be an alarmist, but I also have to consider the risk. There are many unknowns and even though, according to everything I have read and heard, the odds of getting the virus are low, and if one does get it, the likelihood of surviving and recovering are high, I don’t want to take unnecessary risk and be one who gives it to someone else.

I’m pretty bummed about what this is doing to our retirement accounts too. Wife talked to our financial advisor a week ago when the downward spiral began, and he said we should hold tight for now and if we have some extra cash, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to invest in some stocks while they’re on the low side. He’s probably right, but right now I’m more inclined to hoard what cash I have.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020


When I went to bed last night, it was raining.

I went upstairs about 9:30 and read for a while before dozing off. Wife had left in the late afternoon to go to Huntsville, with plans to go to Atlanta later today.

I heard it raining and thundering pretty strongly during the night but slept fairly soundly. A friend texted me just before 6 a.m. to ask if we were OK.

It was then I learned a tornado had touched down a few miles north of here. The damage is substantial, with eight people confirmed dead so far.

It's all that's on our local news coverage and it's sobering to see buildings and landmarks I'm familiar with that were hit.

We're no strangers to tornados here and our first responders are on sight. Just under 50,000 folks are without power. Relief stations have been set up. The mayor and governor held a joint press conference and apparently they've been in touch with the president.

Right now all we can do is pray for those who have been affected. I sent a text to a young friend who lives in East Nashville offering our home if they need a place to go. She said they were fortunate. They lost power for a few hours but it has been restored.

I'm on the board of directors for a local homeless shelter and life recovery center and our women's campus is without power, but the buildings were not damaged.

I learned a long time ago to respect these storms but I am probably not careful enough. I was unaware of anything other than strong rain until I got up this morning.

Down here south of Nashville we dodged another bullet. We're praying for our nearby neighbors.